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FOREWORD The Missouri Review is publishing for the first time "Love," an early, long story (49 mn. pages) by William Faulkner. The story is interesting because it relates to a prominent issue in Faulkner's life, it exemplifies his method of working, and it shows him in the process of discovering one of the great themes of his later fiction. Faulkner wrote the story early, probably when he was twentythree , during a brief period when he left Oxford, Mississippi, and lived in New York. He worked in the bookstore of Lord & Taylor's, where his boss was Elizabeth Prall, later to be Mrs. Sherwood Anderson and one of Faulkner's important early contacts with the literary world. He had no reputation or contacts in 1921, however, and was not able to publish the story "Love." Before his brief residence in New York, he had been working at odd jobs in Oxford, where he had published drawings, poems, and critical pieces in the Mississippian, a student newspaper. His prose pieces in the Mississippian included "Landing In Luck," which is similar to "Love" in that it is a fictional outgrowth of his experiences in the Canadian R.A.F. Faulkner's war experiences, like Hemingway's, were later of great interest to critics and biographers. Both Faulkner and Hemingway made a great deal of their combat experiences, the only problem being that Faulkner hadn't had any combat experiences. He claimed to have served as a pilot in France, when in fact he had never left Canada, where he'd spent nine months in an R.A.F. training program. While World War I may be distant to our concerns today, it was hardly so in 1921. Lying about it was no less substantial than would be a writer today claiming to have served in World War II or Vietnam, when in fact he'd served in Camp Pendleton for nine months. As a young man about town in Oxford over the three years before he wrote this story, Faulkner had earned for himself the sobriquet "Count No Count" because of his haughty, scornful demeanor, and his bragging about "war" adventures. He was a young man trying to create an identity, and probably feeling both guilty for being a liar and defiant for not being accepted. The story "Love" deals with exactly such a situation: a young man named Bob Jeyfus is about to be married to Beth Gorham, but her father and friends, suspicious that he is lying about his wartime pilot experiences, influence her not to marry him. Jeyfus claims to have been a noncommissioned pilot who served in a French squadron. Beth's father invites as a houseguest Hugh, who had served with the French as a commissioned major, hoping that he will be able to reveal the truth about Jeyfus. Hugh is cast as the older, more acceptable suitor to Beth, whose presumed role is to banish Jeyfus by confirming that he is a liar. Jeyfus is doubted equally strongly by Beth's pals of the country club set, and they hatch a scheme to catch the young self-proclaimed "major" in his lie. They set a trap for him, borrowing an airplane and challenging him to fly it. With everyone thus lined up against Jeyfus the reader, of course, is led to suspect that he is being unfairly treated. As the story proceeds toward Jeyfus's entrapment, a separate plot develops around Hugh. Hugh is a stiff-upper-lip patrician, "acceptable" in every way. He is accompanied by a faithful Indochinese servant Das, whose life he'd saved years before. The plot concerning Hugh may reflect the love-triangle story that was popular in the fiction of the day: the housemaid, a fiery Italian woman, has fallen in love with the dignified silver-haired Hugh, and she puts love potions in his nightcaps. Das, whose tribesman's instincts help him see what the maid is doing, tries to protect Hugh from her machinations. The plot dealing with Hugh is inferior to the story of the younger suitor. The accused young man is the character most vividly felt, partly because of the question about him. The story's...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 5-8
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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